PolyMet environmental review decision still months away – by John Myers (Duluth News Tribune – June 9, 2015)


State and federal regulators did not meet their goal to have a revised environmental review document on the proposed PolyMet copper mine near Hoyt Lakes completed by early spring, but it should be ready this summer.

A final decision on whether the environmental review, now underway for nearly a decade, is “adequate” is now expected by the end of 2015.

That was the word this week from Tom Landwehr, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, who said state and federal regulatory agencies are “very close” to making the document available to other agencies and, under open records laws, to the public.

The DNR, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Forest Service have been poring over 58,000 public comments made on the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement that went public in 2013.

It was by far the most comments ever received on a project in Minnesota, and in some cases the issues raised required the agencies, consultants and PolyMet to rerun computer models and make other technical changes in the proposal.

The agencies are required to respond to essentially every unique issue raised in those 58,000 public comments, and Landwehr said that process has been more daunting than expected.

“We missed spring, yes, and that’s just a function of the complexity of it,” Landwehr said in an interview with the News Tribune.

It’s the first major revision of the PolyMet timetable since Landwehr last October said the document would be ready by “early spring” 2015.

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